Fitness & Wellness

Can Herbs Help Balance Your Hormones?

Can Herbs Help Balance Your Hormones?

Most people think of sex hormones when they see articles on how to balance your hormones. However, sex hormones aren’t the only hormones that get out of balance and affect your health and well-being. While perimenopause and menopause can definitely cause a hormone imbalance, there are other hormones that also do. Hormones regulate a lot of processes, which include the sleep cycle, metabolism, appetite, mood, stress levels and even body temperature. Even slight changes in insulin, androgens, thyroxine, cortisol or estrogen can trigger a problem. You can use herbs to help them get back into line.

There’s a reason that holy basil got its name.

You probably have eaten food with sweet basil in, but may not have experienced holy basil. It’s not like sweet basil or cinnamon (Thai) basil, it’s hot and bitter and while occasionally used in Asian cooking, more often used for health benefits. It’s used frequently in Ayurveda medicine and is known as the queen of herbs. It’s an adaptogen, which means it helps the body get back to normal. It’s especially useful for balancing cortisol, the hormone of stress, and helps manage the adrenal glands to help you feel more relaxed and even boost your energy level.

Marjoram is a relative of oregano and good for people with polycystic ovarian syndrome—PCOS.

What is PCOS? It’s a disorder that causes the body to produce abnormal levels of hormones. It especially effects women who are of reproductive age. Studies show that drinking marjoram tea twice a day for a month can help improve blood sugar levels and help manage fasting insulin levels. It’s been used to help improve other types of hormonal imbalances, but there’s still minimum studies on the safety of using it a lot on a long term basis. It influences the cortisol and estradiol—an estrogen steroid hormone—production, too.

Nigella seeds can also help balance hormones.

There are several names for the Nigella sativa. Some call it fennel flower or kalonji. It has a compound in it known as thymoquinone and may also help women with PCOS. In animal studies, it’s shown to be effective in aiding the regulation of insulin, thyroid, testosterone and luteinizing hormones that are responsible for ovulation. It acts much like estrogen in the body, which is why it’s often used for hormone replacement therapy during menopause. In fact, it’s often marketed as black cumin seeds or just black seed. Don’t mistake it for regular cumin. They’re very different.

  • Indian ginseng, also called winter cherry or ashwagandha, is used for supplements, teas and powders. It can help neutralize a chronic imbalance of cortisol. There are more studies that show it may help with thyroid-stimulating hormones and reproductive hormones.
  • Black cohosh comes from the root of the buttercup family. It’s often used in dried capsule form. Even today, it’s used for menstrual irregularities and may act as a phytoestrogen, a plant substance that acts like estrogen.
  • Even though it’s not an herb, drinking green tea may help. It’s good for balancing insulin and can improve the body’s response to other hormones.
  • Licorice, the real licorice from the root of the plant from Asia or Europe, not the anise oil contained in many licorice products, has been used for centuries to help relieve menstrual cramping and can reduce both the intensity and frequency of menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness


Can Certain Foods Give You More Energy?

Can Certain Foods Give You More Energy?

Everyone’s been there at one time or another. It’s just three to four hours since you ate lunch and you’re ready to melt into a puddle. Your energy level is down and you feel too worn out to do anything. What’s the first thing you do? It’s often start searching for something sweet. Don’t do that. While sugary products do give you energy, that energy dips as quickly as it came. Instead, opt for foods that give you more energy that lasts for hours. Make that snack a healthier option that also provides nutrients for your body to function properly.

Make it a carb and protein snack.

A little egg or tuna salad or a dish of brown rice can get you up and moving for hours. While the carbohydrate provides quicker energy, think of the protein as a slow release energy boost. When you choose an option like tuna salad, you’re getting vitamin B12 and omega3 fatty acids. The omega3 can reduce inflammation, which can cause exhaustion. The B12 aids in the production of red blood cells and helps boost the functioning of iron. Both eggs and tuna are a source of protein that helps you feel more energetic longer. Brown rice is also a source of magnesium, which helps process both carbs and protein for energy.

Make a bowl of oatmeal and top it with bananas or apple slices.

Sure, the fruit does provide the sweetness you crave and both contain sugar, but the oatmeal slows down the absorption of sugar. They also contain fiber that slows the absorption of sugar. Oatmeal contains B vitamins, iron and manganese, which contribute to the uniform release of energy, while keeping you full longer.

Maybe you are mildly dehydrated.

Even during the winter months, it’s easy to become mildly dehydrated and even easier during the summer. Before you reach for a candy bar, try drinking a bottle of water. You’ll be surprised at how much of a boost it can bring to your energy level. If that’s not enough, sip on a cup of green tea, which hydrates and also contains L-theanine and antioxidants. Like coffee, tea contains caffeine which boosts your energy level, but the L-theanine helps reduce the side effects, like the jitters.

  • Heat up some mashed sweet potatoes. The sugar will increase your energy level, but the fiber in the sweet potato slows the rush to avoid the huge spike and then sudden drop in energy.
  • If you can’t make regular oatmeal for a mid-day snack, don’t opt for the instant kind. Instead, make overnight oats and put it in a mason jar. Eat it cold or microwave it and add fruit for your midday snack.
  • A yummy yogurt parfait can be a great way to mix the protein with the quick release carbohydrate. Put a layer of unsweetened Greek yogurt in a jar, top it with a layer of frozen or fresh fruit, then add another layer of Greek yogurt and top it with walnuts or almonds.
  • You may think that chocolate is a no-no if you want to eat healthy, but that depends on the type of chocolate and how much you eat. Just a tiny bit of dark chocolate can boost blood flow and brain functioning.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness


Supplements Not To Take

Supplements Not To Take

When you think of supplements, does your mind immediately think of that multivitamin you take in the morning or do you think of the protein supplement you’re taking to boost your muscle development. One of the biggest dangers of taking supplements is thinking they substitute for a healthy diet. They don’t. There are a lot of different types of supplements. Some are made from ordinary ingredients, like fruits and vegetables that are freeze-dried, ground and capsulized. Some are exotic herbs, which may not be as healthy as you think or protein supplements that may cause other problems.

Sometimes bodybuilders are caught in a supplement trap with protein supplements.

Everyone wants that edge that will help them reach their fitness goals faster, but for bodybuilders, it may not be soy isolates or creatine. Both of these supplements provide the building blocks for muscles, but can cause problems. Creatine may help add bulk, but too much can have side effects, which include heart and kidney problems, dehydration, diarrhea and cramps. Soy isolates, contain amino acid. The older you get, the more you should avoid them. They have an effect similar to estrogen that gets more pronounced the older you get, since the body produces less testosterone. It can cause older men to develop enlarged breasts. Older men are better off eating soy products like edamame or tofu to avoid the cleavage.

Beta carotene or vitamin A seems so harmless.

No matter who you are, taking too much vitamin A can be dangerous. Even overdoing beta carotene supplements can be dangerous. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin and overdoing it can create many of the same symptoms as vitamin A deficiency, cracked lips, weakness, thinning hair, headache and dry skin. It can cause problems with the central nervous system, birth defects if you’re pregnant and if you smoke, too much vitamin A may lead to lung cancer.

Calcium supplements may not be beneficial, particularly for seniors.

Seniors, particularly women, often take calcium supplements to avoid osteoporosis. Most diets have an adequate amount and additional calcium, may actually be hazardous, particularly if you’re older. Once you pass approximately 50, it becomes more and more difficult to absorb the calcium by the bones and it ends up being absorbed by the artery walls. That can lead to a multitude of problems, which include hardening of the arteries, heart disease and stroke. Calcium citrate taken with magnesium is easier for the bones to absorb. Avoid calcium carbonate. Even better, eat healthy and exercise regularly to strengthen the bones.

  • Ginkgo is an herb that boosts memory and often sold to treat glaucoma, macular degeneration, dementia and anxiety. If you’re diabetic, it can cause problems with blood sugar levels. It can interact with medicine and lower blood pressure too much or increase bleeding.
  • Not all vitamins are bioavailable. This is particularly true of many inexpensive multivitamins. You end up paying a high price just to have expensive urine and may actually cause problems. You’re better off getting your vitamins from a well-balanced diet.
  • Glutamine, which the body produces naturally, plays a role in immune health, digestion, brain functioning and removing waste. While it can improve recovery and help muscle growth, it also has side effects, such as confusion, blood in the urine, fast heartbeat and weakness.
  • Supplementing your diet with nutrients may give you a false sense of security. Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients that aren’t normally in supplements that all work together to play an instrumental role in your health.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness


Ever Tried Overnight Oats?

Ever Tried Overnight Oats?

If you’re like many people, you find yourself rushed in the morning, barely able to put toast in the toaster. Making a healthy breakfast may be important to help you lose weight, but when time is at a premium, something has to give. Overnight oats is a healthy breakfast option that doesn’t require cooking. You simply combine the oats, whether it’s rolled, steel cut or quick cook, into a container like a Mason jar, and add any type of milk, such as coconut, almond or regular. Put the lid on, shake and store it in the refrigerator. In the morning, they’ll be soft from absorbing the liquid, as though you cooked them.

Overnight oats are actually healthier than cooked oats.

Cooking oats does remove some nutrients. For instance, raw oats that are processed overnight have 26% of the beta-glucan content during digestion, while cooked oats only release 9%. That’s important, since 3 grams of beta-glucan from oats can cause a 5 to 10% drop in blood cholesterol levels. Just like regular oats, overnight oats can keep you feeling fuller longer, since it’s high in fiber. It also contains potassium, protein, magnesium and omega3 fatty acids. Unlike instant oats that often contain sugar, you control the ingredients in overnight oats.

Raw oats provide resistant starch that can help you lose weight.

Resistant starch travels through the digestive system undigested until it reaches the colon. There it feeds the friendly microbes that are in your digestive system. Improving your microbe balance is important to your health in several ways. It boosts your immune system and also can help you lose weight. The bacteria ferment the resistant starch and change it into digestive acid that helps keep you feeling full, plus increases your metabolism. By simply switching out as little as 5% of your ordinary carbs for resistant starch, you could increase your metabolism by as much as 23%.

You can create a variety of overnight oat combinations.

The beauty of eating overnight oats is that it allows you to modify the recipe and can eat a different variety every day. You can add any type of milk, even Greek yogurt, toss in some chia seeds for texture and add honey, agave or maple sugar if you want more sweetness. Most recipes start with an equal amount of steel cut oats or other oats to whatever liquid you choose, such as almond milk, regular milk or coconut milk. Add pecans, pumpkin spice, other seeds or fresh fruit

  • You can eat overnight oats cold or heat them in the microwave. Make sure you use a microwave safe container. It stays fresh in the refrigerator for a up to three days. If you want to heat it, add fruit later.
  • Overnight oats not only save time, they save money. You can make several servings at once and can add whatever extras you have. Just grab your jar in the morning and you’re ready for breakfast.
  • You can also use overnight oats as a snack or a quick lunch. It transports easily in smaller Mason jars. Adding extras like fruit and nuts can make it more nutritious.
  • Diabetics can benefit from eating any type of oats, but overnight oats are easier. The soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugar, and can improve insulin sensitivity.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness


Health Benefits Of Regular Exercise

Health Benefits Of Regular Exercise

If you’re a regular at Next Level Fitness in Irvine, CA, you may already realize all the health benefits you get from exercise. If you just wanted to shed a few pounds and look better, you’ll also get the benefits that come from losing that extra weight. No matter what type of exercise you do, you’re burning extra calories and building more muscle strength. Losing weight may be one of the biggest benefits, since obesity is the leading cause of preventable deaths, even surpassing smoking. Exercise and weight loss can also help lower blood pressure, normalize blood sugar levels and improve the immune system.

Once you hit your thirties, you’ll lose muscle mass if you don’t exercise.

Science reveals that most people start losing muscle mass in their 30s. It is normally a 3% to 5% loss each decade. By the time the individual reaches 60-70, the amount is significant. Not only is muscle tissue important for stability and mobility, it’s also important to maintain bone density. Older women, in particular, benefit from strength training. While estrogen may help prevent bone loss before menopause, bone mass diminishes rapidly after menopause if muscle mass is weak. Muscles tug on the bone and causes increased mineral intake. Stronger bones allows for longer independent living.

Whether it’s back pain, arthritis or other painful condition, exercise can help.

Strength training can help with many painful conditions, including arthritis. It builds tendon, ligament and muscle strength that helps support the joints and relieve the pressure. Flexibility training can increase range of motion to prevent injury. Back pain is another issue that’s helped by regular exercise. You’ll be amazed at how some simple exercises can be as effective as ibuprofen. Exercise increases circulation to help you move easier. If you’re making those grunting grandpa sounds every time you get up off the chair, it’s time to exercise.

Help control your diabetes and insulin resistance with a healthy diet and exercise.

Insulin resistance is the predecessor to type 2 diabetes. You can do more than just control it, you can reverse it. It immediately makes a difference and that effect can last as long as 48 hours. However, when you use exercise as part of a weight loss program or to lose fat and replace it with muscle, reducing your waist circumference, there’s a long-lasting effect that can reverse it permanently. Strength training, particularly in the HIIT—high intensity interval training—-format, burns tons of calories from fat, while building muscle tissue.

  • If you haven’t exercised in years, start slowly, especially if you have pain. A personal trainer can help create a program that is designed specifically to fit your needs, fitness level and goals.
  • Stress kills. Not only can stress hormones build abdominal fat, they make changes in the body that can cause serious conditions. Exercise burns off the hormones of stress.
  • Exercise can improve your posture. Improved posture can help reduce aches and pains, plus reduce the potential for heartburn, constipation, incontinence and more. It also builds self-confidence.
  • You’ll increase circulation, which sends oxygen and nutrient laden blood cells to all parts of the body, feeding every cell from your brain to your skin. It keeps you looking and feeling years younger.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness


What Sugar Does To Your Internal System

What Sugar Does To Your Internal System

There are so many diseases that might be avoided by a healthier diet. A healthier diet would contain less processed food, less trans fats and less sugar. Highly processed food is a large category, which normally contains food high in trans fats and sugar. The more sugar you consume, the more potential for disease and serious conditions. It affects your entire body, starting at your internal system. It can create clusters of symptoms, such as high blood pressure, visceral fat—belly fat, high blood sugar levels and bad cholesterol levels.

There are three macronutrients, carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

You need all three types of food. The body breaks them down with enzymes, so they are available for the cells to use. If you have too much glucose available, it’s stored in the liver, muscle tissues or packed on as body fat. Sugar is a carbohydrate, but it’s a simple carbohydrate. That means it immediately breaks down and goes into the blood stream, which causes the pancreas to produce more insulin. If you have more and more insulin produced, by increasing simple carbs, two things can occur. One is that the pancreas become overworked and fails maintaining blood sugar regulation. The second thing that can occur is the cells become insulin resistant, which can lead to a number of problems.

Insulin resistance is the precursor of type 2 diabetes.

It’s also can occur before metabolic syndrome, obesity and cardiovascular disease. When there’s glucose in your blood, each cell unlocks to absorb the glucose for energy and survival. The hormone that unlocks the cells is insulin. When there’s a constant flow, over time, the cells become less responsive, so more insulin is produced and the resistance from the cells increases. It becomes a vicious circle, where cells ultimately don’t receive adequate nourishment to be healthy.

Too much sugar can increase blood pressure.

Sugar consumption also causes chronic inflammation. That affects all parts of the body, including the brain. Scientists believe it may be one cause of Alzheimer’s disease. It also can cause heart disease. Excess sugar causes weight gain. It’s not just in food, it’s in beverages, too. Recent studies show that even “diet” soft drinks can cause visceral fat—fat around the middle that’s the most dangerous type of fat, so opting for the diet drink isn’t an option.

  • Diabetes is a killer that can cause kidney failure, blindness, increased risk of limb amputation and increased risk for both colon and pancreatic cancer. Excess sugar intake can lead to arthritis, gallstones and varicose veins.
  • Excess sugar can cause premature aging. It causes glycation by combining with proteins. That new molecule created is advanced glycation end products—AGEs. It attacks collagen and elastin cells that keep skin firm and youthful looking.
  • Sugar is addictive. It affects the same brain receptors as cocaine. It also alters the sense of taste, so things don’t taste nearly as sweet, so you add more sugar.
  • Sugar can cause memory problems. Several studies show it not only hinders memory, but also learning. Unfortunately, sugar seems to be in many products today, even ones you wouldn’t suspect, so read labels.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness


Surprising Sources Of Protein

Surprising Sources Of Protein

There are a number of different sources of protein that aren’t animal products, yet most people immediately think beef, pork, poultry and fish. You’ll be amazed at how low cost these alternate sources can be and how healthy. While most people get adequate protein in America, a few groups don’t. Seniors are one of those groups. It’s not because they don’t consume it, but primarily because they don’t process it in their body as well. People trying to build muscle tissue also need more protein, so having an alternate source that’s heart healthy is also important.

There are 20 amino acids, but only nine that the body can’t make.

These are called essential amino acids. They include histidine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, leucine, tryptophan, threonine, methionine, lysine and valine. They’re easy to get from animal products, but not nearly as easy for vegans, since there are few complete proteins in the plant world. Quinoa, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat and soy are complete. That shouldn’t stop you from a meatless Monday or mean vegans are stuck eating those three protein sources daily. You can combine protein to get the perfect blend. Beans and rice and fried rice and peas are two examples.

It’s easier to get protein from meat and poultry, but have plenty of other options.

You need approximately 0.36 to 0.45 grams per pound of body weight, but that also varies. Your activity level, age and goals make a difference in how much protein your body requires. A piece of Parmesan cheese the size of a pair of dice has 8 grams of protein, whereas a chicken breast has up to 65 grams. You’d have to eat 8 servings of Parmesan to get the same amount. How do you get more? Add a cup of green peas to your meal, which also contains eight grams of protein. Use that cheese to make a grilled Parmesan cheese sandwich on high protein bread, such as Ezekiel bread. Eat vegetables like broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, asparagus and Brussels sprouts throughout the day for 4-5 grams every one cup serving.

Your snacks can be protein supplements.

Grab some nuts or seeds for a quick snack and boost your protein intake. A handful of almonds contains about 4 grams. Roasted pumpkin seeds are another high protein option that provides a complete protein. They contain about 7 grams of protein per ¼ cup. Eat veggies and hummus dip for even more protein. A cup of Greek yogurt with berries can also bump up your protein intake.

  • Lentils are also a good source of protein. Just one cup offers 8.84 grams. Like other sources of protein, lentils provide other nutrients. For instance, they’re a good source of potassium. Add them to soups and salads to increase your protein intake.
  • Want a high protein snack that’s great after a workout? Coat a protein bread with nut butter and top with some sliced bananas to provide both protein and carbs that will help with recovery.
  • Add some extras to your meals to boost your protein intake. If you scramble eggs or have an omelet, adding five mushrooms will add three grams of protein. Adding broccoli or kale will increase it even more.
  • A cold quinoa salad with raw Brussels sprouts, broccoli, onion, avocado, garbanzo beans, tomato or other veggies can be a low calorie healthy option to get both protein and other nutrients.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness


What Exactly Is Gluten?

What Exactly Is Gluten?

Have you considered going gluten-free or purchased items at the store that were gluten-free, thinking they must be healthier. Many clients at Next Level Fitness in Irvine, CA have told me they’ve done the same, but they aren’t sure what gluten is or why it’s healthier not to eat food that contains it. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale, which is a cross between rye and wheat. There are a number of types of wheat such as semolina, spelt, wheatberries, durum, graham, farina and more, but it’s most prevalent in wheat, rye and barley.

Gluten is beneficial for pizza makers and others.

Gluten makes food have a stretchy quality and holds things together, which is why pizza makers can stretch that ball and toss it in the air. It helps prevent to dough from ripping. There are two types of gluten in wheat. It does have health benefits if you aren’t gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. Since it’s in grain, avoiding it can increase the risk of heart disease, since it would reduce the consumption of whole grains, which can reduce the risk. Whole wheat also can also reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and deaths from other causes. It can act like a prebiotic to feed good bacteria, particularly one bacteria, bifidobacteria.

There was a theory that today’s grain contains more gluten, but it’s not true.

While gluten levels have remained level in wheat, there are other reasons we see a rise in celiac disease and gluten intolerance. While gluten hasn’t increased, the structure of the protein gliadin has changed and that new structure triggers the gene that causes celiac. The new structure was completely absent in the 1960s,which may explain an increase more recently so 80% of the wheat used has the alteration. Gluten is in everything from soy sauce to beer and pasta. Even Play-doh contains gluten. Celiac disease wasn’t discovered until recently, approximately the 1970s. That’s when they discovered the gene HLA-DQ2 that’s associated with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis, a skin rash resembling shingles that occurs from sensitivity to gluten. However, it’s been around since Biblical times, just not recognized.

Symptoms of gluten intolerance may be the same, but there’s a difference.

Both gluten intolerance and celiac may cause diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation or all four. Those with celiac have extremely foul smelling excrement. Those with celiac disease also have other symptoms, such as unexplained exhaustion, headaches, skin blistering or other skin conditions, unexplained weight loss, iron deficiency, anxiety, auto-immune disorder, brain fog, joint pain, damage to the intestines, appendage numbness, or muscle pain. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease and the damage can be permanent.

  • Diabetics may suffer more from more celiac disease. While the average population may have a one in one hundred incidence of celiac disease, the number rises to one in ten for diabetics.
  • If you have gluten intolerance, always read labels. It’s even in potato chips that contain malt vinegar or wheat starch. Some lipstick, lip-gloss or other cosmetics contain it, so do oral care products, communion wafers, nutritional supplements and over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs.
  • Be aware that many “gluten-free” products are naturally gluten free, such as potatoes, rice, quinoa and oats that aren’t contaminated during processing. Other gluten-free products may have added salt, sugar or saturated fat to improve the flavor, texture or satisfaction of that product.
  • It may be hard to get adequate fiber and nutrients if you go gluten-free. It also may lower the amount of B-vitamins, iron phosphorus, zinc and calcium in your diet. Those nutrients are often in foods with gluten.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness


Boost Your Immune System For Fall

Boost Your Immune System For Fall

If you haven’t already started or live a healthy lifestyle, fall is a great time to boost your immune system in Irvine, CA. It’s cool enough to get outside more and be active. There is a lot of fresh produce at the market and it’s a good time to take the kids for bike hikes or for nature lovers, take a whale/dolphin watching trip. Go to the park and take off your shoes to experience earthing. There are many ways to boost your immune system.

Get your vitamin D, C and zinc.

These are key priorities to help boost your immune system, although there are other nutrients that can help as well. You can boost your intake of all of these by adjusting your diet and also going outside for 15-20 minutes, three days per week. Studies show that people with dark skin, the obese and older individuals are prone to a vitamin D deficiency. In fact, about three fourths of the population may have a D shortage. People who have lower vitamin D levels are more susceptible to colds, influenza and covid. Consuming salmon, sardines, tuna or egg yolk can help, but many people use fortified products or supplements. Zinc is necessary to maintain your immune system. Shellfish, legumes and nuts are good sources of zinc. Vitamin C is best known as an immune booster and you’ll find it in sweet red peppers, broccoli and citrus fruit.

Phytonutrients all add to your immune protection.

Carotenoids are a category containing six different phytonutrients. Beta-carotene is one of those that boosts the immune system. It’s found in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots and cantaloupe, but also in green vegetables, like spinach and broccoli. Food with anthocyanin, such as blueberries or Concord grapes, are normally purple to deep red. Anthocyanin gives them the color and boosts your immune system. The allicin in garlic can also give your immune system a boost.

Exercise if you want to be healthier.

Don’t overdo exercise, by working out for hours or spending every day lifting weights, but get some type of exercise every day. Overexercising can be just as hazardous to your immune system and not getting enough exercise. Make sure you get two days of strength building a week, you have adequate endurance and flexibility workouts, as well. Add a few outside activities in this wonderful weather, like riding your bike or walking. If you’ve never worked out before, go slowly, but keep it consistent. Let your body be your guide.

One study shows that for every 10% increase in your BMI—body mass index—there’s a 4.2% drop in vitamin D blood levels. Losing weight can help improve vitamin D levels, your immunity and overall health.

Add spice to your life. Ginger, garlic, basil, chamomile, cinnamon, sage and thyme all provide an immune boost. Sprinkle some extra herbs in soups, salads and main dishes. Add a dash of lemon or honey for even more immune protection.

Get plenty of sleep. You need seven to eight hours of sleep every night to fight infection and stay your healthiest. Sleep is the time your body repairs. It should be quality sleep. “

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water is the best way to hydrate. Try drinking a glass of room temperature water when you first get up. It helps wake you up by rehydrating you after a long night.


Could A Flexitarian Diet Be Right For You?

Could A Flexitarian Diet Be Right For You?

Eating healthy is extremely important for your overall good health, but which type of healthy diet should you choose? There’s a lot of them out there and just a few are carb, rawist and vegetarian. Some have strict rules to follow, while others are a lot easier. One of the easiest is a flexitarian diet. A flexitarian diet isn’t specific. It’s based on a healthy menu that limits processed foods, but doesn’t eliminate any healthy food, like animal products.

The diet was created by Dawn Jackson Blatner, but has been modified by others.

What’s the best type of diet to follow? The best type is one that you’ll stick with and follow. Eating animal protein like meat, dairy, poultry, eggs and fish in moderation makes a flexitarian far easier to follow. It’s adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet and limiting animal-derived foods. Think meatless Monday, Thursday and Friday or Chili con carne with very little carne.

Just like other healthy diets, a flexitarian diet provides variety.

You don’t have to give up that occasional burger, just don’t eat a burger every meal. A flexitarian way of eating uses plant sources for most of the protein. It follows many of the dictates of other healthy diets, like focusing on eating more whole foods or limiting food with added sugar. Think flexible when you think of a flexitarian diet.

If you have allergies or a food intolerance, you can still use a flexitarian diet.

There’s no one set meal plan and few basic rules. If you can’t drink milk or use milk products, don’t drink or eat them. Eat beans, an egg or meat instead. Just throw extra servings of veggies on the plate and have some fruit for dessert. Highly processed food, like luncheon meat, white bread, snack foods or hot dogs should be avoided. It’s very similar to a Mediterranean diet, but with fewer restrictions.

  • There are few studies on the benefits of a flexitarian diet, since there’s no one meal plan. However, the increased focus on fruits and vegetables means more phytonutrients, fiber and nutrients, which helps weight loss, prevents heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
  • Since there’s no strict meal plan, you’ll have days you ate less healthy and those that get a gold star. You won’t be as tempted to give it up if you had a less healthy day, as you would if you cheated on a diet.
  • Eating less meat and animal products can help in other ways. It can cut the cost of groceries dramatically. The cost of a bag of beans is far less than the cost of a pound of meat.
  • A flexitarian diet could be a perfect match for almost anyone. For those trying to build muscle tissue, then special attention must be paid to plant-based protein and amounts of total protein. People with B12, iron, zinc or calcium deficiencies also need to be more focused on finding plant alternatives.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness